Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said that Jamaica is meeting the challenge of protecting the country’s marine resources through policy and other safeguard measures.
He said that the process to develop a Protected Areas System Master Plan (PASMP) is “far advanced” and should be completed later this year. The plan aims to take a holistic approach to protected areas management in Jamaica and will encompass not only marine, but freshwater and terrestrial protected areas.
In addition, he informed that between 2009 and 2011, 12 new fish sanctuaries were declared across the island and “with this, Jamaica’s total marine protected areas increased to 15 per cent”.
Minister Pickersgill was speaking at on July 10 opening of a two-day planning meeting for next year’s Caribbean Summit of Political and Business Leaders, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
The summit falls under the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI), launched in 2008, which seeks to galvanise leadership and chart a new course for protecting and sustainably managing the marine and coastal environment across the region.
Senior Government officials from 10 Caribbean countries, including ministers and permanent secretaries, are making preparations for the summit, where phase two of the CCI will be launched.
At the launch of the initiative at the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn, Germany, Jamaica was one of eight Caribbean countries that committed to conserving a minimum of 20 per cent of marine areas by 2020.
Minister Pickersgill expressed the hope that more Caribbean countries will step up to the challenge of conserving marine and coastal areas, stressing that “we must stand ready to make significant commitments and if we are to achieve sustainable management of our protected areas, including our marine areas”.
Director of Natural Resources in the Environmental Management Division in the Ministry, Jerome Smith, told JIS News that this is the first of three planning meetings for the summit, where government and private sector leaders will come together “to try to forge a way forward and make commitments for the protection of marine resources”.
"So, this meeting will be deciding on the agenda and the project documents that will be used for the summit next year. This is the first senior officials planning meeting. There are supposed to be three senior officials planning meetings before the summit, which will be in the British Virgin Islands next year,” he informed.
The CCI seeks to galvanize political will to protect and better manage marine and coastal resources; to mobilise funding, including putting sustainable funding mechanisms in place; and to accelerate and support on-the-ground action to implement the various marine and coastal conservation commitments made by governments.
The 10 governments participating in the planning meeting are: Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; British Virgin Islands; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Jamaica;
St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and Puerto Rico.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter